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HISTORY AS A BRANCH QF LITERATURE

to lessons or inferences which seem self-evident, pre-
cisely because there is something imperfect in die
specialised or partial way in which the events are narrated.
Shakespeare's own Hamlet is more like a picture or
reproduction of an actual piece of life; and, confronted
by the spectacle which the dramatist provides, ""the
mind passes from commonplace moralising to the
tragedy of humanity itself ". Froude continues:

Whether the history of humanity can be treated philo-
sophically or not; whether any evolutionary law of pro
" gress can be traced in it or not; die facts must be delineated
first, with the clearness and fulness which we demand in an
epic poem or a tragedy. We must have the real thing
before we can have a science of a thing. When that is given,
those who like it may have their philosophy of history,
though probably they will care less about it; just as wise
men do not ask for theories of Hamlet, but are satisfied
with Hamlet himself.

The literary historians then, by the nature of the case,
tended to conform to one of die modern criteria, in that
they set as their ideal the reconstitution of the historical
moment in all its fulness, concreteness and complexity,
and with all the incidentals gathered into the picture.
I think I should be true to Froude's meaning if I illus-
trated it by saying that a partial,' selective story of the
seventeenth-century constitutional struggles in England
might prompt the reader to strong parliamentary pre-
dilections in the case of one author and to royalist con-
clusions perhaps in the case of another. But if one
could see die whole story in its fulness and complexity
one would cease to hanker after this kind of judgment
or decision* Everything else would be submerged in